The livestream of Lord Pannick QC’s Brexit challenge performance wooed the public
Blackstone Chambers barrister Lord Pannick QC — who became somewhat of a heartthrob when his Brexit legal challenge advocacy performance was livestreamed to thousands — says there should be more cameras in court.
Writing in The Times (£) this morning, the public law specialist argued:
Broadcasting of crown court trials would make a substantial contribution to understanding of the legal process… To impose a general prohibition on broadcasting, preventing members of the public from being able to watch any part of any criminal trial from their homes, is indefensible. The criminal justice system should not continue to exclude the most popular means of mass communication. Open justice should be open to the cameras.
Pannick made his comments just days after crime docudrama The Trial: A Murder in the Family concluded on Channel 4. The TV show followed the fictitious Crown Court trial of Simon Davis. Simon was accused of murdering his estranged wife, Carla Davis, by strangulation.
Though actors played Simon, Carla and some witnesses, other elements of the trial were more authentic. The trial took place in a real court, was presided over by a real judge, was advocated by real barristers, and was decided by a real jury.
In the end of the five-part series, the audience was shown Carla’s murder and — spoiler alert — Simon was responsible. However, the jury failed to reach an outcome, and Simon walked away from court an unconvicted man.
Though Pannick used The Trial to make his pro-cameras in court arguments, he didn’t seem totally sold on the show itself. He said:
Unlike a typical day in crown courts around the country, witnesses and jurors all turned up on time. It was, I think, a mistake for Channel 4 to show us at the end what happened in the moments leading up to Carla Davis’s death. A real criminal trial rarely ends with such closure.
Whatever Pannick’s thoughts on the show, we wonder if his desire for reform stems from his own on-screen experience.
Arguably the most important case of 2016 was that of Gina Miller — a fund manager who took the government to court over its Brexit strategy, and won. Unlike in the lower level courts, Supreme Court proceedings are filmed and livestreamed, meaning thousands of people were able to tune in and out of the hearing at their leisure.
Leading Miller to victory was her lead counsel Pannick, who became an unlikely Twitter star when his constitutional law advocacy skills were broadcasted to the world.
Lord Pannick could probably convince me to stick to my diet. This is incredible. #PannickAttack
— AJM (@YouMustBeAnna) December 6, 2016
How amazing would it be if Neuberger just stopped Pannick midway: "I think we've heard enough to be able to reach a decision…"
— Shoaib M Khan (@ShoaibMKhan) December 6, 2016
Well if that's a tight rope walk over a constitutional trap, I'd say Pannick is tap dancing on it! Go Pannick go go go!
— Lucy Series (@TheSmallPlaces) December 6, 2016
Seemingly wooed by Pannick’s performance, UCL academic Richard Moorhead even decided to base an entire legally-themed clothing range on the Blackstone boffin (pictured below).
More cameras in court, more Pannick stardom?
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